Nonprofit offers free science education resources

Ellie Jones, executive director of Everblue, said the idea for the lesson plans, which are now being released weekly, only came together a month ago. (Courtesy images)

Oregon-based Everblue provides lessons around ocean subjects using up-to-date research direct from scientists and researchers to aid quarantining teachers, parents

An Oregon-based nonprofit is offering free science education materials to the public — all focusing on the ocean. Everblue, founded just two years ago, is an organization that specializes in helping scientists better communicate their research to the public, primarily through education and online engagement.

“We increase scientific literacy by connecting our audience directly to our researchers,” said Executive Director Ellie Jones. “We bridge that gap that’s normally really distant, between when science gets done in a lab and then when it reaches the public.”

One example of this work is the “lab collabs,” a partnership where the nonprofit handles outreach for scientists as they do research in the lab — which helps them fulfill a requirement for many federal grants, while Everblue spreads information to the public about the subject area as well as the research process in common language.

“That’s our main goal,” Jones said, “just breaking it down so that people who aren’t scientists, people who aren’t connected at all to academia are still interested enough to continue to follow our work and see what’s happening — and hopefully get that information on such a regular basis that it leads them to live more ocean-conscious lifestyles.”

Another large component of the nonprofit’s work is a social media push to regularly supply those scrolling on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with knowledge about conservation and pollution issues in the ocean, as well as real, applicable solutions they can apply to their everyday lives — all in an effort to promote what Jones calls “ocean-conscious living.” They also promote brands that are making ocean-conscious, environmentally friendly decisions.

The perfect middle ground between these two missions is their newest project: educational materials based on new research that teachers and homeschooling parents can use to teach kids about the ocean.

“The lessons that you see right now on our website, all of that came around just about a month ago when all of this started happening because all of our conferences got canceled,” Jones said. “And so, I pulled together an emergency team meeting and said ‘OK, how are we going to come back from this?’”

Those conferences were going to be where the team met potential clients for the lab collabs, but with coronavirus concerns clearing the schedule for 2020, that was no longer an option. Instead of accepting defeat, Jones and her team had another idea.

“I was hearing from so many of my relatives with young children and a lot of teachers that I know (through working with Everblue) … that teachers are really struggling right now — especially elementary school,” Jones said.

Jones pitched the idea that they could reach out to researchers they’ve worked with previously to create educational materials as a concrete demonstration for future clients of what they can do. At the same time, this fills a need for parents-turned-teachers and professional teachers looking for additional materials to work with in an at-home learning environment.

“I’m really hoping that they (the lessons) will give parents, teachers at home just a little bit of relief, just like a little extra help,” Jones said.

New modules are added to the website each Friday, spanning topics from sand dollars and swimming salps to tropical reefs and sediment. All lessons are available at oceaneverblue.org under the “education” tab. For up-to-date information about what the organization is working on, follow @oceaneverblue on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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